Archive for April 8, 2006

Upma – the Indian Cream of Wheat

my Indian grocery spree

A few months ago I found a local Indian grocery, with a general international (mostly asian) shop right next door. Went on a little shopping spree…


One thing I bought was soji/suji – or semolina. After reading many delicious sounding (and looking!) recipes, I was anxious to try upma. If I had seen this great recipe at Sailu’s Food before I bought suji, I might have tried upma with the box of Cream of Wheat in the pantry. I found the suji quite different from cream of wheat I am accustomed to, which takes longer to cook. Suji thickened right up almost the moment it hit boiling water. The next time I make this, I will be sure to cook the veggies a little longer first. I also thought suji was more delicate both in consistency and flavor.


ingredients for upma


Here is what I used for my upma experiment:

“cream of wheat”

1 1/2 c. suji
3 c. water
2 tsp. salt


1 japanese eggplant, quartered lengthwise, chopped, and lightly salted
1 carrot, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 orange bell pepper, chopped
1/2 c. spinach leaves, torn
1/2 can diced tomatoes, drained (ripe tomatoes are so scarce this time of year)


2 tsp. ginger-garlic paste
1 small green chile, halved
a tempering/tadka of 1 tsp. each cumin and mustard seeds plus a few curry leaves sauteed in 1 tsp. ghee


I mostly followed Sailu and Indira’s excellent instructions and toasted the suji. Fried the tadka ingredients in 1 tsp. ghee, then added ginger-garlic paste, chili, and veggies. When the onion and pepper began to wilt, I added the water and brought to a rolling boil. Added the suji in a steady stream, stirring all the time (this part is just like making polenta). I was ready to cover the pan and let the upma thicken slowly, but it formed a lovely veggie-studded ball around the spoon in about ten seconds! So I turned the heat down to very low and let it sit, covered, to help the carrots and eggplant soften a little. In about twenty minutes total, I had a delicious new dinner – upma with fresh lime squeezed over.

upma with fresh lime

Thank you Sailu and Indira, for a new recipe that might even make my kids think twice about ‘hot cereal’.

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